The country’s four biggest housebuilders have all been shortlisted to bid for £3.9bn of government funding to build social housing.

The Housing Corporation has written to all the successful organisations and Building understands that Barratt, Persimmon, Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow will all be included on the list when it is announced next week at a conference in London.

The four, who between them built 47,666 homes in 2004, will join at least 60 housing associations on the corporation’s list of preferred development partners. The listed names will spend the lion’s share of £3.9bn building 70,000 homes in the two years to April 2008 (see above for spending breakdown).

Steve Douglas, who as predicted by Building has been appointed deputy chief executive at the corporation, said: “We are confident we can deliver, especially as a number of housebuilders are experiencing a slight downturn in the wider housing market. They will be keen to build affordable housing as a result.”

In order to receive funding, bidders will have to meet a strict set of criteria including building all homes to the BRE EcoHomes “very good” standard and ensuring that a quarter of the £3.9bn is spent on homes built using modern methods of construction. The final allocations will be announced in early 2006.

The ODPM has also announced local authorities will receive £1.6bn to spend on refurbishing housing stock from April 2006 to April 2008.

Of this, £700m will be specifically targeted at bringing housing up to the Decent Homes standard by 2010.